9 August 2012

East Africa: Regional Prison Authorities Need Training - Says Minister

Internal affairs minister Hillary Onek has said prisons authorities in East Africa need to improve on their knowledge and skills in order to ably deal with emerging global crime trends like terrorism.

Onek was speaking at the opening of the third meeting of the East African Community chiefs of prisons and correctional services from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Wednesday meeting took place at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala.

"We are working in a dynamic and fast-evolving environment. Also, the characteristics of prisoners are different. For example, today we have terrorists as prisoners and they are dangerous. This change of environment requires training," Onek said.

The minister said that the prison authorities should aim to deliver correctional services, counseling and equipping inmates with skills to enable them transform into better citizens.

"The aim of our services should be correctional. Prison staff should focus on counseling inmates and organizing training programmes to impart skills which will transform their mindset so that they become better citizens," he said.

Onek believes that prisons should not be places for beating, locking up and punishing prisoners.

With that put into consideration, the minister gave the impression that crime rates would reduce.

Dr. Julius Rotich, the EAC Deputy Secretary General for Political Federation said the prisons and correctional services subsector has been integrated into the regional peace and security strategy for EAC member states.

Rotich said this was critical to the EAC, saying it would also contribute to the implementation of the common market and freedoms of movements in the region.

However, he noted that the Peace and Security sector still faces funding challenges which affects its operations.

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